It’s been very quiet around here the past few months. I’m excited to be back here today to share what I’ve learned from my experience during my first year on Bright Line Eating. I’m going to run this as a series of ten posts, as there is just too much going on in my brain that I feel like I need to share with you to keep it to just one post!
If you are a new subscriber to Healthy Girl’s Kitchen, and there have been quite a few of you during my absence, thank you for subscribing!
If you are a member of my private Facebook group, The Healthy Girl’s Kitchen Mindset Mastery Support Group and Book Club, you probably already know what’s been up with me these past few months and why I basically went off the grid. For HGK readers who are not, I’ll fill you in.
My ninety-one year old father passed away on July 11, 2017. From the day he got sick and was admitted to the hospital, my life was turned upside down.
I raced from Ohio to New Jersey, helped to take care of my dad in the hospital, put him to his eternal rest, sat shiva, packed up my parents house where they lived for 52 years in less than two weeks, and then brought my mother back to Ohio to live with my family. In addition, my mother has a number of serious health issues that require immediate and ongoing attention, and I have become her “primary caregiver” now that my dad is no longer with us in body. We like to joke around that I just adopted a new child with special needs, and I already had my hands overly full!
In case you are one of my three brothers or one of their wives, and you happen to be reading this, I seriously am not taking full credit for the above. It was a massive joint family effort that required all of our time and energy for months and I am so proud of us for how we’ve handled everything.
To say I’ve felt discombobulated and turned upside down is a pretty accurate description. It’s why there was an immediate halt not only to my blogging, private book club on Facebook and Evolution Journal Pilot Project, BUT TO MY OWN FOOD RECOVERY JOURNEY.
Within a few days of arriving in New Jersey, it became crystal clear that the most compassionate thing that I could do for myself was to drop all of the pressure to maintain my weight or lose weight, to plan my food, to weigh it, and even to not eat sugar and flour. It all seemed so ridiculous in the face of the herculean tasks I was called to handle. And do you know what?
Not only do I NOT regret letting it go for all that time, I now believe it was the best thing that could have happened to my food recovery program. Eating food that comforted me during a time when I needed a lot of comforting was simply the best thing that I could do for myself given the emotional resources that I had. Letting go for a time was an act of self-love and self-care, not the work of a saboteur.
As the dust started to settle and I slowly began to feel like myself again just two months later, I gently eased myself back into my Bright Line Eating program.
I started to write my food down again. I started to weigh my food again.
It was a little challenging for a few weeks as I found my groove again, but I kept at it. I was far from “perfecct” and I didn’t care. I had total confidence that it was the healthy thing for me to do.
Right now, today, at the moment when I write this, the decision to return to a BLE “life” feels really, really good, natural and normal. And that’s a sign that I made some really big progress changing my habits BEFORE my father passed.
But, there’s one fundamental difference since I went on a BLE “vacation” and then came home to it (and it really does feel like home now).
You see, it is commonly said in Bright Line Eating that “Your Bright Lines are YOUR Bright Lines.”
Unfortunately, the perfectionist part of me, the good girl who tries to do everything right and get all As-she couldn’t live that way. She was always trying to do Bright Line Eating exactly the way the program was introduced to her.
Even when the program as introduced wasn’t really the perfect fit for her.
As a little bit of background, in case you are not familiar with BLE, there are four Bright Lines:
- No sugar
- No flour
When you first start out in BLE Boot Camp, there’s quite a bit of pressure to do the program in the way that would get you the fastest weight loss. So generally, a person starts out following the recommendation of 3 meals per day and the exact quantities of food that are “as written” for quick weight loss.
Why is that? BECAUSE IT SIMPLY WORKS SO WELL FOR SO MANY PEOPLE.
But not all people. And not me, unfortunately.
As much as I tried and I tried, and certainly had a lot of success losing weight on BLE, I was still struggling with eating sugar and flour every few days.
And that felt very yucky.
I also was pretty hungry too much of the time on the BLE weight loss plan. It’s difficult to sustain that much hunger.
Now, in BLE’s defense, I have heard countless stories about how the amount of food on the weight loss plan was “just right” and how people almost never felt hungry and rode the weight loss plan all the way down into their right sized body. And BLE has the pictures and success stories to prove it. It’s actually quite remarkable that they are achieving the levels of success that I am seeing in the group.
But I was a little too hungry, and that made being on the plan kinda stressful for me. Even though I was free to add more food and truly make a Bright Line eating plan that worked for me as I gently glided into “the dance of maintenance,” I always felt very unsure about myself.
I didn’t have that confidence to trust my own instincts about the number of meals or the quantities of food that were right for me. (Ironically, the confidence that I now have about trusting my instincts is largely due to my work in another Bright Line program called Bright Line Healing. More on that in a future blog post.) After 32 years of failed weight loss attempts (I’ll be 47 next month), I’m sure you can understand that I came by this fear honestly.
Well, something happened when I took a two month mental vacation from it all. When I returned, with weight to lose now (because I have been over-consuming food these past two months–it’s not rocket science), it wasn’t even a question of what I would do next.
I was completely relieved of the compulsion to do a BL eating program that didn’t work for me. It was so obvious that the only way to do this is to do what is sustainable for me in the long run.
Out with the low-calorie plan, in with something that keeps me satiated until right before the next meal, even at the expense of quickly losing the weight that I have gained.
Out with the pressure to do anything perfectly and achieve any stretch of continuous perfect Bright Lines. In with the compassion, curiosity, courage and connection that allows for REAL health-not simply a number of the scale that I white knuckled myself to get to that is totally unsustainable for me.
It just ain’t worth it to me, given all of the responsibilities that I have and the actual peace with food that I seek.
I adjusted my BLE plan to 4 meals per day (which is completely within the BLE framework) and an allowance for rough quantities when I just can’t bear to break out the scale (also fine). I’ve added relaxed quantities/proportions of protein, carbs and fats with my occasional restaurant meals. It’s difficult enough for me to get a restaurant meal that is plant-based and without sugar or flour. I don’t need that added pressure of thinking that the meal has to be BLE perfect.
I returned wholeheartedly to the “no sugar/no flour” recommendation after it was crystal clear that those white, powdery substances clearly made me inflamed, fat and seriously depressed. Not a surprise to most of you, I’m sure!
Finally, I felt completely FREE.
And within a few days, I even felt THIN again (haven’t weighed myself in months and frankly, I don’t give a hoot what the scale says right now).
And I started to feel so gosh-darn HAPPY.
Just like Susan promises, “Happy, Thin and Free.”
What’s my point?
The first lesson that I learned from my year in Bright Line Eating is this: BLE is simply a methodology that works, IF YOU STICK AROUND FOR THE MAGIC TO HAPPEN and you are confident enough to make your program the one that works for you.
I love the flexible food plan approach. What works for one person isn’t what’s going to sustain another’s success, and that’s okay on BLE! At the end of the day, I seriously think that everyone that stays on BLE for the long haul ends up developing the perfect eating plan for them, with the incredible method that we were taught.
Plus, if I take a break for some odd reason or personal crisis, as long as I don’t freak myself out and start thinking “I’m a failure at this, I might as well quit,” and I look at the whole experience as waves in the ocean, always in a dynamic flow, I’m totally at peace with it.
I love the BLE food plan. The brilliant structure of it all. How you can actually make it work AND be very much your own. How it balances each meal (protein, fat and carbohydrates). The simple daily rhythm of a set number of meals and set quantities of food that take you to a place where you no longer have to wonder, “What’s going to happen to my weight after I eat this?” I like how I can add food to my plan if I see that I am too hungry in between meals for a few days in a row, or take food out of my plan if I decide that to losing a few pounds is what I need.
If you know me well at this point, you know that I’ve spent a lot of time promoting the benefits of a Whole Food, Plant-Based Diet. But actually, at this point, I’m tired of the debate. The pushing. The trying to control other people and the choices on their plates.
As far as I can tell, people on any diet, whether it’s plant-based, flexitarian or omnivorous, are ALL having radical success on BLE, not just with their weight but also with their health and getting off of medications. I lost that feeling like there is something magical about a 100% plant-based diet because I saw for myself how it didn’t much matter.
Suddenly, Michael Pollen’s food rules seemed to make the most sense of all: Eat real food, mostly plants, not too much.
NOT TOO MUCH
That’s the beauty and the magic of combining Bright Line Eating with a plant-based diet. You finally find out what not too much actually means!!!
I’m not saying I’m not still plant-based. I am. I’m just lighter and easier about it all.
And I love that.
If you have been struggling with your weight OR your feeling of peace and freedom about food and diet, and are looking to experiment with something new, you might want to consider giving Bright Line Eating a chance.
I’m going to spend the next nine blog posts detailing out what I’ve learned from my Bright Line Eating journey this year.
There aren’t very many diet or food plans that I can say I’ve lasted a year on and look forward to for another year. But something about how I’m settling into this Bright Line Eating thing has me believing that I might be here another year from now talking about year two on BLE.
If you’d like to find out how susceptible you are to the effects of sugar and flour, you can take this free quiz here.
After you take the quiz, you’ll be directed to a video where Susan Pierce Thompson explains what your score means for your Food Freedom. In the next week or two, she has two additional videos to share with you. Together, these three videos are the Food Freedom series. It’s ALL FREE and it all starts with the Susceptibility Quiz. YOU CAN TAKE THAT QUIZ HERE.
Bright Line Eating is having the last of it’s big boot camps where thousands of people go through the program at the same time (broken down into much smaller, more intimate Facebook groups for unparalleled support). There’s going to be lots and lots of amazing excitement and good vibes around this last large boot camp launch, so if you’ve been on the fence around experimenting with BLE and a boot camp, there’s no better time than now to give it a try.
After this, anyone can do a BLE boot camp at any time and they don’t have to wait for a big launch, but you don’t get that same feeling of excitement.
If you’ve got any questions about what BLE boot camp is like, I’d be happy to answer them in the comments section.
Catch you very soon with the second thing I’ve learned this year: that there are many parts of my personality and if I’m going to achieve lasting peace with food, I can’t ignore any of them!
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